Gangi: The best thing of the season
November 17, 2016
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The best thing to come out of this 2016 Nevada Wolf Pack football season? The emergence of Ty Gangi at quarterback. It took a season-ending injury to starter Tyler Stewart for the coaching staff to finally turn the offense over to Gangi and the sophomore has hit the ground running. Make that throwing. He has passed for 877 yards and six touchdowns in the last three games for the best three-game passing performance by a Pack quarterback since Cody Fajardo in 2014 (888 yards and six scores against Boise State, Colorado State and BYU). Yes, Gangi will sometimes throw the ball to the wrong team (six picks) but that's part of the learning process that he won't have to go through next year. The Pack has found its quarterback for the next two seasons.
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Gangi nearly became the first Wolf Pack quarterback last week to throw for 300 or more yards in three consecutive games since Zack Threadgill in 2002. He fell just 24 yards short against San Diego State's Mountain West-best defense. Stewart, by the way, never threw for 300 yards in a game. Gangi might always be a quarterback that throws the ball to the wrong team but that's only because he isn't afraid to make plays. Fajardo, don't forget, was picked off 29 times. Chris Vargas was intercepted 42 times. Eric Beavers was picked off 37 times in the 1980s when the Pack pounded the ball on the ground with Anthony Corley, Otto Kelly, Lucius Floyd and Charvez Foger. Gang's interceptions will decrease substantially with experience and when he doesn't always have to overcome huge deficits like he has in the last three games.
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It will be turn back the clock weekend at Mackay Stadium on Saturday with a 1 p.m. kickoff against Utah State. It is a return to simpler times when television didn't dictate the kickoff time, when tailgate parties could begin at 9 a.m. and families could be home by 6 p.m. after a long morning and afternoon at the stadium. Since installing lights at Mackay Stadium in 2003, the Pack has started 33 games at 1 p.m. or earlier and has won 23 of them. Pack fans are now accustomed to bringing two blankets, sweaters and gloves and drinking extra caffeine to stay awake as the games approach 11 p.m. or later but it It wasn't until 2010 that the television networks started requiring the Pack to kick off games at 7 p.m. or later on a consistent basis. It happened just five times from 2003-2009 and 18 times since. Saturday will be just the seventh 1 p.m. or earlier kickoff at Mackay in the last five years. Enjoy the sunshine.
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This weekend up on north Virginia Street also presents a unique opportunity for Wolf Pack fans that has not taken place this century. There will be three football or men's basketball games on three consecutive days on the Wolf Pack campus. The men's hoops team hosts Oregon State on Friday and Iona on Sunday and the football team hosts Utah State on Saturday. The last time men's basketball and football combined for three games in three straight days at Nevada was 1999 when basketball beat Washington State in Nov. 19 and lost to San Francisco on Nov. 21 and football lost to Utah State on Nov. 20. The three games attracted a combined crowd of 27,670. Pack fans should be able to beat that this weekend. The teams should also be able to win more than one of the three games.
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Can we just get to the Dallas-New England Super Bowl and be done with this boring NFL season? There doesn't appear to be a legitimate threat to the Cowboys in the NFC (maybe Seattle) and the AFC, it seems, can offer us just Denver, Kansas City and Oakland as alternatives to another Patriots Super Bowl. The NFL has become predictable and tedious and if it wasn't for fantasy football and sports betting the league would be in trouble. College football is also unwatchable with games that approach four hours because of penalties, ruling reviews, television timeouts and endless commercials. Football has become a television show. It's five seconds of action followed by three minutes of standing around. And they say baseball is boring and too slow.
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The Wolf Pack basketball team gave us a glimpse on Monday night of how coach Eric Musselman is going to use this new roster. Musselman basically used just seven players as the Pack held off Loyola Marymount. And that was with Cam Oliver playing just 17 minutes because of foul trouble. Leland King, a 6-foot-7 junior, and Josh Hall, a 6-3 freshman, who were supposed to have significant roles on this team, played just a combined five minutes. If the rotation is that tight in a November non-league game against Marymount at home, what is it going to be like in January in Mountain West games on the road?
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The only real concern with this Wolf Pack basketball team so far has been its defense in the paint. The Pack allowed Saint Mary's to score 56 points in the paint in the season opener and then came right back and allowed 42 to Loyola Marymount in the second game. Those 56 points in the paint are the most surrendered by the Pack since Musselman became head coach. The Pack allowed more than 42 points in the paint just three times last year in Musselman's first year and lost all three times, to Fresno State (50 points in the paint), New Mexico (46) and Hawaii (46).